“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”, said Nelson Mandela.
The Arabian Gulf region is undergoing a massive change on both economic and social levels. Reforms, economic diversification and new technologies have put the region on a superfast track. The words of Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela on education provide context on how to manage this monumental change for the bright future of the region.
The GCC’s education sector will continue to need support of governments and the private players to meet the aspirations of young population as more than 50 percent of the GCC residents are under the age of 25.
Addressing the problem
Bridging the gap between education and the current and future job market is essential for the progress of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), asserted panellists at a session on education at the Knowledge Summit 2017, noting that the youth of today are unprepared for the labour market; lacking the necessary skills to be competitive in today’s world.
Noureddine Selmi, Head of Cabinet of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Tunisia, said: “The correlation between education and the output of knowledge in the labour market is very important. Currently, there is a disconnect between the two and for our societies to continue developing, education must cater to the needs of our societies and the labour market.”
Selmi also stressed upon the current identity crisis in the region, whereby youth are unsure of how to maintain their Arab and Islamic identities, while also pursuing education and using technology for personal education and employment goals. He mentioned that the UAE is a prime example of how Arabic and Islamic culture can be successfully integrated with cutting-edge modern technologies.
Meanwhile, Mmadi Kapachia, Secretary of State for Spatial Planning and Urban Planning, Comoros Islands, said: “It is extremely important for education in the region to evolve. Education needs to revolve around the students so they can develop their practical skills through training and critical thinking instead of mere memorisation of curriculums. Only then can youth be active members of society and contributors to the labour market and economic development.”
Need to match global standards
Panellists agreed that education systems in the region need to match current global standards of education and address the challenges of the labour market if our region is to compete on a global level.
The use of technology early in schools and universities is also paramount to achieving this objective, especially if the region’s youth are using the technology to address specific challenges in development goals.